Monday, November 12, 2012

Good Balance: Staying on Your Feet in Bethel

by Barb Dion

On Thursday, November 1, the WMSC To Your Health committee presented “Good Balance: Staying on Your Feet in Bethel.” A large crowd enjoyed the very informative talk which focused on preventing falls as we age. Before the program started twenty lucky registrants were able to have a balance assessment performed by the presenters: Lissa Merrill, Scott Bottomley, and Amy Bottomley, all of Stephens Memorial Hospital Department of Physical Therapy.

Scott Bottomley and Mary Leimbach
The facilitator, Amy Bottomley mentioned that people are living much longer, and that the purpose of this program was to give pointers on how to stay safe and enjoy life for as long as we can. She explained what a fall is, and that falls are common, predictable, multi-factorial, and preventable. Some, but not all risk factors are lower body weakness, problems with gait and balance, impaired vision and/or hearing, postural hypertension (drop in blood pressure when standing), and medication side effects. Inappropriate footwear was also shown to play a part in falling. The more risk factors you have, the greater chance of a fall.

Some tips were presented to avoid falls.  The need to hydrate, good nutrition, proper use of medications, eye exams and hearing screening were important. Also, a good exercise program will keep your reflexes strong and help you to walk faster and safer. Walking, tai chi, yoga, and other aerobic exercises are highly recommended.

A large part of prevention includes checking your home environment for potential hazards. Throw rugs, cluttered floors, objects placed on steps, and improper lighting were mentioned, as well as slippery tub or shower floors. Always keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone. If possible, carry a cell phone on your person. It was suggested that seniors consider wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case they fall and can’t get up. 

Amy Bottomley, Rosabelle Tifft, Judy Whitman and Lissa Merrill

Stephens Memorial Hospital offers a balance program called "Staying on Your Feet" for all adults ages 60 and older. This is a free class that meets on the second Thursday of every month. To sign up, call 1-866-609-5183.

photos by Barb Dion

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